This last Sunday I participated in the Luna Bar Duathlon at the Luna Bar All Women’s Duathlon at Rancho Seco Park, which is in rolling hills south of Sacramento near some vineyards and a nuclear power plant (I’d never been this close to one!!). I had decided to do this event because it was going to be 2 days after I moved and I figured I could use both motivation to unpack stuff from my car and a break from putting stuff away. Also, I was interested in getting into triathlons and thought this would be a good intro because I wouldn’t have to deal with the swim – bike transition, which seemed complicated, or struggle to train for swimming, since I technically didn’t have access to the Caltech gym/pool any more after graduating (what do girls do with your hair? Do you just redo it after taking off swim cap? Braids?)
Bike and bag of gear all ready to go the night before
I trained for this more than any recent event, mostly because I knew my legs needed to be in shape for the biking and running. The Rose Bowl was perfect for this – mostly flat with some very gentle hills and a 3.15mi loop. I would do several laps for a bike workout or 1-2 laps for a run workout. I also did a couple of practice duathlons – transitioning at the car.
So I felt pretty prepared. I packed up all my gear the night before and got up at 5am the morning of to drive to Rancho Seco Park so I would have plenty of time to park, check in, and prepare my transition area. I’d never done something like this before, so I checked out how other ladies were setting their stuff up, putting the bike on the rack by the seat and organizing their various shoes, clothing, and towels (for triathletes) on the ground next to the bike.
My bike in the transition area
It was so cool being at an event that was just for female athletes. There were 4 events – Super Sprint Duathlon and Triathlon and Luna Bar Duathlon and Triathlon, so there was an event for everyone, from the not-so-in shape to the serious triathletes. Throughout the day, everyone was really supportive of each other and sports-woman-ship was everywhere. Plus, I didn’t often see this many women in my years at Caltech (only at frisbee tournaments, where the camaraderie is not so good…) Yes, boys, it was nice for all of you to be on the sidelines just cheering us on.
Looking at all the ladies setting up in the transition area.
My race was a 2 mile run, followed by a 20 mile bike ride and a 4 mile run. These last 2 legs were shared with the triathletes, who started in waves on a .5 mile lake swim. When we started the first run, we all joked that we would rather be jumping in the lake – the run course was in the sun and it was already getting hot. I’d drank about 2 Liters of water since waking up, though, so I think I started out pretty well hydrated. I focused on pacing myself on the first run – I have a tendency to go out WAY too fast and tire myself out early and felt good and relaxed on the first run, doing 8-minute miles, faster than I’d expected. My first transition went well and I felt fast and strong going out on the bike course, even though I was getting passed by triathletes who’d clearly trained more than me (my cycle speed is currently only about 15 mi/hr, whereas I imagine the best athletes were probably around 20mi/hr). I had taken two shot bloks before starting the race and took the remaining 4 shot bloks at intervals throughout the bike ride (it’s way easier to do bloks/gu while cycling than while running) and trying to stay hydrated.
The bike ride was an out-and-back course and it seemed there was a little more uphill on the way back, plus a headwind, so I didn’t go quite as fast and my legs started to get tired, but I kept going. I only had one almost-bad incident when some bitchy lady honked at us from behind (I guess she was impatient to pass?) and I jumped, accidentally nudging my front wheel onto the soft shoulder. Miraculously, though, I got back on the road almost immediately and hadn’t been at one of the spots where the pavement dropped off several inches to the shoulder. A passing woman congratulated me for not crashing and flipped off the rude driver for me.
My number – 76
The final run was hard for me, not only because it was longer than the first run, but because my legs were really tired and my stomach was feeling really awful, as it often does on races. Normally, 4 miles wouldn’t be too bad of a run for me, but the heat and tiredness made it a big challenge. I focused on my breathing, and on taking advantage of the downhill sections (which not a lot of people seemed to do). I had a cup of electrolyte and a cup of water at every aid station (every mile, which was great!), using most of the water to pour on my head to keep cool.
I ended up finishing in 2:24:50. I’d not had a good idea of how long this should have taken me, but I expected to take over 2 hours and, based on the return part of the bike course and the second run course, I was pleasantly surprised by this not-too-terribly awful finish time (the winning time was 1:57:00, the last finisher was 2:54:54). I was 8th out of 22 athletes in the Duathlon and 1st (out of one athlete, but hey, I was competing just against myself anyways) in the 20-29 age group.
My 1st place plaque and free box of Luna Bars!
Overall, this event was a great experience! Everyone was really friendly and supportive. It made me really excited to get into triathlons next season because I still don’t really love running, but I enjoy biking and swimming. This was a lot more fun than the long trail race I did in May, even though I covered more distance, because I got to ride my bike! In the meantime, I’m hoping to get my cycling speed up, get back into swimming, and maybe compete in some shorter trail races (I’ve always been better at running less far…) so I can work on my speed. If I’m not out in the field for this event next year, I definitely want to do it again! Check out this page for info about the race this year.
Do any of you blog readers do triathlons? Any training tips?